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19- Healthier avatar appearance leads subjects to healthier lifestyle choices

Icons and figures representing people have become increasingly popular in the gaming world.

Example of how avatars can be used in weight loss
These icons and figures are labeled as avatars, avatars are a big part of how someone is identified to other games. However avatars may be useful to us in other realms of our life such as weight loss, in this study 76 undergraduate students who wanted to lose weight created an avatar and the results suggested that a computer generated version of ones self may assist in controlling impulsive behavior such as dietary regulation and weight control.

   Healthier icons or avatars lead to eating less and choosing healthier drinks


76 subjects who intended to lose weight viewed an avatar of either their present self, or a weight reduced version of themselves. A taste test was administered after this, as well as a temporal discounting task, the results of which showed the subjects who were shown a reduced weight version, chose to eat less ice cream, and were more likely to choose a sugar free drink as a reward. This coincided with the hypothesis that the avatar with the weight reduced version would produce healthier choices, the reason for this being that they would feel better about themselves and feel a need to maintain their positive body image.

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Test Conducted via a virtual reality simulation, also assessed relationships between frequency of meals, BMI,and ideal weight they would like to reach.

The subjects viewed themselves in a mirror via virtual reality simulation, and the relationships between many weight variables were assessed. The tests results showed that the subjects who saw the reduced weight versions were more willing than the others to wait for larger future gains.The relationship between amount of ice cream eaten was also correlative, as the higher BMI subjects ate more ice cream even if they viewed the reduced weight self.

  Study conducted by Temple University supported thought that viewing an avatar of yourself could help in losing weight.

Data from study showing 88% of  subjects thought viewing an avatar would help lose weight.
The similar experiment surveyed 128 overweight women, finding 88% of these women thought viewing a virtual reality version of themselves would be helpful. The scientists expanded this initial survey into an experiment with 8 of the women over 4 weeks, and the women watched a 15 minute video each week with the avatar reflecting themselves. The avatars couldn't be manipulated and the women watched them partake in healthy lifestyle practices, as well as following weight loss procedures in real life. At the end of the  four weeks the women had lost an average of 3.5 lbs, but the hope in both this experiment and the one I am examining is that the people will carry the practices of the avatars and the healthy lifestyles into their lives even after the experiment is over.

These experiments show that the up and coming advances in technology and virtual reality may be helpful in other ways than entertainment, including but not limited to weight loss.

With new technologies such as smart watches and virtual reality becoming increasingly popular with the development of devices such as the Oculus, It will be interesting to see what kind of programs will be developed for these devices to assist in other tasks such as weight loss. These experiments that have been described show that these technologies like avatars can be useful in weight loss, as the technologies continue to advance and more studies like these show that they can indeed be beneficial, I believe that these devices will be targeting the use of avatars for health and the consumers will want to use them to assist in their journey.This experiment was very eye opening and at a time where obesity and video games are trending upwards, It is beneficial to everyone to combine the two and try to accomplish a goal.



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